This excellent work is one of the finest maps of Eastern Europe made during the mid-19th Century, having been compiled by the eminent cartographer Heinrich Kiepert. While it focusses on Poland, it embraces Europe’s most volatile cultural-political borderland regions. Centred upon Warsaw, the map takes in a vast territory, roughly framed by St. Petersburg, in the north-east; Poznań and Vienna, in the west; Smolensk and Odessa, in the east; and down to the lower Danube and the adjacent tip of the Black Sea, in the south. It encompasses all or most of modern day Poland, the Baltic Countries, Belarus, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.
The mapping is predicated upon the very best sources and shows the complex political situation in Eastern Europe as it stood during the mid-19th Century, following boundaries that were mostly established at the Congress of Vienna (1815). Essentially, the region was controlled by four competing powers: Prussia, Austria, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. While each jurisdiction is outlined its own attractive hues, military boundaries, being areas always on a constant state of war-preparedness, run between the Austrian territories and those of the Ottoman Empire and Russia.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which had ceased to be an independent state in 1795, is here shown to have its traditional territory divided between Russia proper, the Russian puppet state of Congress Poland, Prussia (controlling western and northern Poland), and Austria (occupying the Cracow region). The inset map, in the upper right, details the historic territory of Poland from its high-watermark in 1660, followed by its gradual partitions from 1772 to 1795. In 1859, tensions were on the rise in Russian-occupied parts of Poland, subsequently leading to the unsuccessful January Uprising (1863-4) against the Czar’s rule.
In addition to its Polish territories, Russia controlled the Baltic Countries and most of the lands in the east.
Further south, Austria is shown to control, in addition to its slice of Southern Poland, Galicia, Bukovina, Hungary (including modern Slovakia) and Siebenbürgen (Transylvania).
In the south-east, the map shows the territory of the newly independent state of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia (the precursor to Romania), which became independent from Turkey on January 24, 1859, shortly before the present map was published. In the far south, the Ottomans still control Bulgaria and Bosnia, while Serbia is shown to be an independent state.
The map labels virtually every city and town of significance, and, in a signature feature of Kiepert’s maps, employs toponymy in the native languages of the regions depicted. All major roads are delineated, with post roads being highlighted in red.
Most interestingly, the map gives a fine depiction of the rapidly growing railway system in Eastern Europe, which saw major advancements year-to-year. Of note is the St. Petersburg-Warsaw Railway, shown here to be nearly complete, although it would not become fully operational until 1862.
The present example of the map is of the third of three progressively updated editions. The first edition was issued in 1849, followed by the second in 1853. The dramatic growth of the railway systems is the main feature distinguishing the editions. All issues of the map are very rare on the market, we cannot trace a record of another example of any of the editions as having appeared on the market during the last generation.
Heinrich Kiepert: Preeminent 19th Century Cartographer
Heinrich Kiepert (1818 - 1899) was a German geographer and historian of unusual intellect and diversity of interests. Born in Berlin, he grew up in an affluent, culturally sophisticated family, mentored by leading academics and travelling widely. He studied history, geography and philology at the Humboldt University of Berlin, with a focus on Greece and the Near East. In addition to his academic duties, he showed great talent as a cartographer and worked closely with several commercial mapmakers. His first major project was assisting Carl Ritter in the production of his Atlas von Hellas und den hellenischen Kolonien (1840).
Kiepert travelled extensively in the Near East between 1841 and 1848 and become a world-renowned expert on Turkey. This led him to produce his own cartographic works concerning the Ottoman Empire, including the Karte des osmanischen Reiches in Asien (1844); the present Karte von Klein-Asien (1854); the Specialkarte vom Westlichen Kleinasien (1890-2) and his posthumously-published, monumental Karte von Kleinasien meist nach noch nicht oder in kleinstem Massstabe veroffentlichten Aufnahmen in 24 Blatt (1902-6).
Upon his return from the Near East, Kiepert became the head of the Geographisches Institut in Weimar and, in 1854, was appointed a full professor as the University of Berlin. He maintained a long association with the prominent Berlin map publisher Dietrich Reimer, who was responsible for issuing the present map. Kiepert was a remarkably adept editor of cartographic material, possessing an uncanny ability to select the best and most accurate information out of a variety of conflicting sources, resulting in maps of amazing accuracy and precision for their time.
As a leading authority on the Ottoman Empire, Kiepert had an interest in its borderlands, which led him to explore the mapping of Russia and Eastern Europe. He was also Prussian, which gave direct access to his government’s excellent mapping of its territories, and additionally, he developed stellar contacts across Eastern Europe, allowing him to create the present fine map.
Kiepert also produced excellent large-format maps of diverse parts of the world, including Central America, the Near East, the Caucuses and the Mediterranean.
Also notable were Kiepert’s educational works, Lehrbuch der alten Geographie (1877) and his Leitfaden der alten Geographie, (1879); and his enlarged atlas of the ancient world, Formae orbis antiqui (1894). He also produced many maps for the Baedeker travel guides.
Following his death, in 1899, Heinrich Kiepert’s cartographic work was ably continued by his son, Richard Kiepert (1846 - 1915).
References: OCLC: 839099354 / 985468731. Cf. [Re: 1849 ed.] Lothar Zögner, Antike Welten, neue Regionen: Heinrich Kiepert, 1818-1899 (Berlin, 1999), no. 78 (p. 87).